Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Product review: Kindle vs Book

Kindle vs Book

Having just read another book on my Kindle I found several itching points that I have discussed with my co-authors here at A Secret Reading Garden and thought i would like to share with your lovely selves.

To give you some background, shortly after moving house and struggling with lugging all my books into boxes, downstairs, upstairs and back out of boxes (only to find not a single shelf in my new room!) its easy to say i was open to persuasion for an easier alternative. Zuzana showed me her Kindle which amazed me! All those books on one tidy, neat, light-weight device. It was easy to read, the screen and text were appealing and in the style of an actual novel. It was a winner in my opinion! So won-over by the Kindle i set out the very next day to Tesco's to purchase one. And at £111 at the time, it was a dear impulse buy!
So with Kindle in hand and a smile on my face i couldn't wait to get set-up and started. 

At that time i also decided (another impulse) to enroll on my Masters degree, so for commitment issues, my kindle was shortly resigned to the book-shelf  and started to collect dust.
To date, i have read several novels on my Kindle including Water for Elephants, Life of Pi, and even started Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution! But once again, resumed its ornamental status.

I decided i would start reading '13 Reasons Why' on my Kindle (see Book Review). I have neglected my e-Reader for some time so decided to refresh, replenish and re-invest into my electronic book collection once and for all. In the review, you will have seen that for reasons told, i am not happy with the Kindle version of this book as the format did not reflect that in the hard-copy.  It didn't do it the justice that was given in paper form.

So! Let the fight begin!

Round 1
Anticipation round

The excitement of purchasing a new book and either taking it home with you or having it land through your doorstep is one that i enjoy. There is an anticipation and an excitement in giving your time to looking, choosing and committing yourself to purchasing a book in a store. With the kindle, its a quick title or author search, one-click buy and within seconds, the e-book is ready at your fingertips to read! This is a tough round, especially if you are short of time or have a 'regular' job and hate Saturday shopping centers.
It is a tough and close round, but after careful consideration, there really is something magical and more exciting when you have a physical object in your hands.
Round one therefore goes to Book!

Round 2
Visual Round

There are many aspects of a book that Amazon Kindle have tried to replicate. I admit that they have done some of these very well. The text and format of the screen is quite like that of a book. The screen doesn't glare, nor is it hard to read in very light or dark places. However, the Kindle is monochrome. Big fail! The second most important aspect of any book, second only to the content itself, is the artwork. The presentation of the book. The artwork itself is (sometimes) a beautiful aspect of any book. The colours and textures used for the front cover and within a book are simply not translated through the kindle well at all (if at all). Front pages look dated, Also, the e-books i have read, skip the viewing of the front cover and set you up on the contents page. Why?
To me, the front cover is a very important feature of all books. It works to attract you. It sets a precedent and expectation of the book. It tells us how we feel about the book before we have even read past the title!
It is easy to say that Round 2 goes easily to Book!

Round 3

Sensory Round

Despite Kindle trying to replicate as many aspects of a book as possible, there are several aspects that cannot be replicated on a digital device. These are characteristics that all book lovers i think will agree is what keeps us going back time and time again. They are certainly aspects that make me love books. 
The smell of a book.
The cracking of the spine.
The texture of the pages when caught in the right light.
Round 3 goes once again to Book!

Round 4
Progression Round
'How far have i read?', 'How much further to go?' 
Progress checking is definitely something i like to do with a book. I judge the pages left and pages read to see how far on i am and have left to go. I also flip pages to see how much left of the chapter i have and whether i should get some sleep or carry on just a little bit further! 
You turn a page at the click of a button. Yes, this is easy and allows for seamless regular reading, but no more seamless than turning a page. In fact, as a book lover, there's something quite satisfying in turning that page. The sound of it turning and the texture of the pages. The excitement of the next sentence concealed from you until you turn that leaf over! 
Despite kindle having a % (of the book) displayed on the bottom of the screen, i don't find much use or excitement in it. I usually judge my book progress in fractions, two fifths, half way, three quarters, ALMOST done! Although its quite easy to translate a percentage into a fraction, it simply is not the same as holding the book on your page and looking at how far you've come, and how far you have still to go. 
Further to this you have to flip pages singularly and wait for the kindle to re-calibrate its screen each and every page. This does not make for quick and easy page-flipping either forwards or backwards. It's boring and time-consuming and half-the-time i end up loosing my page or putting the book down without even bothering seeing how much of until the end of the chapter. 
Round 4 once again goes to Book!

Round 5
Practicality Round
I have often found myself on the sofa, or in bed reading and trying to be comfortable and able to read at the same time. I have had numerous dead-arms,aching arms, pressure point-aches and times where my book has fallen and hit me square in the face! I do admit that it can be quite awkward to lay in bed and have to adjust yourself every time you turn the page or when you get an ache. However, the the Kindle is practical, light weight and you don't have to hold the pages open or at an angle that catches the light. The screen of the Kindle is flat and easy to read at all angles and in most light settings.
The Kindle makes a great come-back at Book with the fact that it is so practical. Books can be heavy and bulky. They take up space and weigh your bag down. Especially if you have a few books on the go at once! They sometimes jab you in your side with the corners. The kindle is slim and light and can fit thousands of book on it at any one time. I have a leather case to protect my device and even then it is still uber-practical!
On this aspect, the Kindle wins every time.  
Round 5 finally goes to Kindle!

Round 6
Formatting Round
Books are heavy. Especially an academic book! Especially 7 different academic books that you need for 1 assignment, but you have 4 assignments! I therefore took the initiative to download documents, texts and publications of interest and use during my studies as an attempt to address this issue. 
Unfortunately, although saving me several twisted and strained muscles,  this did not work as i had hoped and expected. I converted my texts using e-Reader conversion software. But when i came to viewing the documents, they were badly adjusted. Pages did not fit the screen properly, texts were either huge or tiny, i could not scan a book, flick through the pages until i could see relevant material. Even though there is a chapter contents page on most e-books, this was useless as i'm sue most academics will understand.  
The final round goes once again to Book! 

So at the end of the Rounds the clear winner of this head-to-head battle is The Book!!!

One thing i do think the Kindle is lacking in its competition with the book-market is the accessibility to a book after purchase. If i buy a book, i want all-round access to it. After all why should i have to buy the book twice, once in hard-back, another on my e-Reader. I think a great idea, though complicated to create, would be to receive a unique code with your book purchase that enables you to download the electronic version to your e-Reader if desired. Also, if purchased on your e-Reader, then you could receive a discount on future purchase of the physical book. After all, we all have our favorites collection that we all love to keep and revisit again.

I do love good books, to me there will not be a device that can make books a thing of the past. I understand now why my Kindle has been gathering dust on my shelf. Unfortunately, despite its practicality, the Kindle just doesn't scrub-up to the real thing!

Trinity College Old Library in Dublin, Ireland.

But we live in a world now where our purchases are ever more technological, all-in-one, ninjas of the information world. I have an iPad which does a heck of a lot of things! I have found myself in no need of an actual camera. One that you buy just to take pictures! I have one on my iPhone, iPod and iPad (I'm starting to think this is an apple take-over!!!). As with most people, i have not had an alarm clock for many years!

Maybe in 100 years, there will be nothing in a living room apart from a glass plate table-top that is interactive, plays TV, displays and reads the news and turns the controls of your microwave which you put your porridge in just a moment ago. It may also come with glass plate tablets for individual use! No fire, no books no bookshelves, no ornaments. Nothing but a sofa, an interactive table and an abstract painting on the mono-chrome wall.

I would love to hear what you guys think about anything iv said and what your views are on e-Readers. I have the Kindle but i'm aware of the extensive market and varieties out there. I'm sure there are many pros and cons to each of them! But can any of them out-match a book?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


GIRL OF NIGHTMARES is a sequel to the one book which managed to surprise me - ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD - written by Kendare Blake. It was published in the summer and instantly become a best-seller. 

You all know, how much I loved Anna dressed in Blood and I just couldn't wait to read the sequel. Cas & Anna's story is so unique that you just get hooked immediately.

Six months past since Anna dragged Obeahman to the Hell with her to save our ScoobyDoo gang. Six months Cas dreams about her. He mopes around and misses her. Carmel and Thomas are trying their best to take his mind of her but everything complicates when Cas starts to have nightmares about Anna being tortured in Hell. So he decides to take the most dangerous journey of all and bring her back from the Hell to be with him. But will he succeed?

Oh Kendare Blake, thank you for bringing this story into my life! I have fallen for Cas and Anna's story fast and hard. I couldn't think about anything else for a while. It's so different compare to the novels and young adult books on current market. It stands out! Firstly of all, it's dark. Very dark. This is not a normal love story where a boy meets a girl and all is lovey dovey!  This is a story of love between The Living & The Death. Between The Killer & his future Victim. This is a story from the paranormal world of ghosts.

As soon as I have finished Anna Dressed In Blood I knew that this is the one story which manages to surprise you . Especially, when you expect cheesiness and always-returning love triangles between species. That's how they make money these days. Everywhere you look. TV dramas, films, books.. But...This is an original within them.

Instead you find a girl who was cursed and killed by her own mother and now she has become a killer against her own will. We have a boy who's heritage is not a trust fund, but the ability to kill ghosts. But he falls in love with the ghost he supposed to kill. If you expect Happily-Ever-After, you won't find in this book.

Girl of Nightmares is so much darker that the first book. There is torture. Fights. Magic. Voodoo rituals. The Suicide Forest. An a secret society of the descendants of the Druids who's goal is to kill ghosts and send them where they belong. All these elements will glue you the pages and you wouldn't be able to put the book down. You will want to find the answers to your questions:  Will Cas save Anna? Will they get the chance to be together? Will Cas survive?

Although the main subject of the book is the goal to find a way to save Anna from the the torturous  hands of Obeahman, we get to meet new characters. Jestine - who is the replacement for Cas and seems to know a little bit more than him which of course irritates the hell out of him. We will learn more about The Order who forged Cas's athaem. They are dangerous people who do not care where the ghosts go. For them Cas is only an instruments. He should not have his own will and decide which ghost deserves to be killed and which doesn't.

And of course, our ghostbusters are just normal teenagers driven by their hormones, so we will see arguments. Struggle to cope with responsibility. A strain on relationship and the dynamic within our trio. And of course there is the fact, that Cas's one true love is living in the Hell of doom.

Again, Blake breathed life to Cas's character in her unusual witty way. Although I fear that Cas lost a little bit of his sarcastic view of life and there is a lot less of his witty commentary I enjoyed in the first book. But that must be part of the story. He is heartbroken and stressed. Of course he needs to be more serious.

But I have found this book equally enjoyable. Again very relatable in the way the characters talk and think. Normal but abnormal in the same time. This book is entertaining. Spell-bounding. Dark. Brutal. Merciless. Cool.  Eye-opening.  But also beautifully heart-breaking.

A perfect sequel to the first book. Although I have recently found out that Kendare Blake will not write anymore books in Anna's series, she managed to write a perfect ending to this story. And even though I was a little bit heart-broken by the ending, I thought it was just a pure perfection. One in a billion stories.

Yes, the end of the story can be open to a possibility of writing another sequel, so I contacted the author on Twitter and was left with a great answer. "It's the Last. Unless Cas tells me different :-)" I so hope that Cas will scream and fight in the true nature of his character, because I would love for him to get his own happy ending.

All in all, I have loved this sequel. To be honest, it was the best sequel in a book series, I have read so far. Kendare Blake managed to keep the level of her previous writing and gave us another wonderful insight into Cas's wonderful paranormal world.

CONGRATULATIONS MS BLAKE, another beautifully created and executed story. 

Couple of quote to give you taste for this book: 

“Every time I question him about the feasibility, he smiles at me like he's Yoda and I'm just a dumbass without the Force.”

“Jesus. I have become the thing they call the third wheel.”

“She crossed over death to call me. I crossed through Hell to find her.”

“In the sixth row of the theater, in the third chair in, Anna winks at me. Or maybe she just blinks. I can't tell. She's missing half of her face.”

“Everyone seems to know more than I do, and being on the shallow end of the information pool is starting to piss me off.” 

“It’s true what they say about answers only leading to more questions. There will always be more to find out, more to learn, more to do.” 

“This is weird. There's a dead woman in front of me like dozens of other dead women I've seen. But this one is a queen, and a famous one. If it's possible to be starstruck by the dead, then I guess that's what's happening.”

“I’m just saying it doesn’t always have to be spirits and magic. Sometimes hauntings are in your mind. It doesn’t make them less real.”

“I want to get some sleep, so if there's something mind-numbingly disturbing you want to show me, can we just get it over with?”

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Book Review: 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why
By Jay Asher

Word-of-mouth, one of the most effective methods of marketing and promotion apparently. After all, nothing works better than somebody telling you that they've tried something and really enjoyed it. Your friend says she tried this new brand of shampoo and 'look at how shiny my hair is now!' Or strayed somewhere and 'you should go there too!' You'd pick that one over the others because you've been told by a reliable source that it is good and it does work! So that's the reason i hurried to read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. After such high praises and strong recommendations from two friends, i had to get my teeth into this book and see what the fuss was all about! 

I hit the internet and quickly found an edition for my kindle. After all, 'it must be good!' Is what i thought, and thus spent my £5.49 and had to Wi-Fi'd on to my Kindle in seconds! And thus... i tucked in!

To start out with the story was promising. The setting was well delivered and i quickly had a clear image of Clay Jensen. The topic seemed a little cliche but it was mysterious, so 'Hey' i thought, 'lets see what rolls'.
I really like the format of the book. It is original (to me anyway). Set out in the format of cassette tapes. Each chapter a side of a tape before going onto the next, and a different story on each side. Delivering the story together this way held my attention, but i do say, that this was probably the only thing that kept me tied in. It slowly revealed this 'jigsaw puzzle' style story, knowing that they would all come together in a big finale at the end. And since she was relentlessly spilling all the gory details of her fellow classmates, it had to be juicy!

As a main character i was really quite disappointed with Clay. I was pretty disappointed as to his hand in the story. After hearing all about the perverted, sexist and cruel ways of the 'named-and-shamed', Clay's 'trial' was the most disappointing! I wanted the 'juice'. Mr. Nice-keeps his virtue and integrity. From some head-screwed girl who has found a reason to blame as many people as she can on her obsession with killing herself and deciding to destroy their lives by publishing them on cassettes, i thought she could have done better. No way should Clay get away lightly! If he was such a nice guy, he shouldn't have been in the circulation. After all, didn't she want to ruin all the people that caused her to top herself?!  He didn't belong there, so why was he? I thought about how the story would flow if Clay was omitted. and, despite having to get a new main character, the story would flow just fine, if not better. Writing from the sadistic view of Bryce would have put quite an interesting slant on the book. I'm sad to say that Clay, was one of the most disappointing main characters iv read in a long time.
I shan't go in to how pathetic I also thought he was. 'Hannah this...' 'Hannah that...', 'I love you Hannah', 'I tried to reach out to you Hannah' Blah Blah Blah!!! VOMIT!!!!!! My final verdict, Clay sucked, the end!

I'm sure in not the only one here, but being English, i have no idea at what age you are a freshman or sophomore or senior. I know i'm not alone as our very own DandyAndy had no idea either! So a bit of Googling summarised this issue for me:

Freshman - 14-15 years ols
Sophomore - 15-16 years old
Junior - 16-17 years old
Senior - 17-18 years old

So, Hannah Baker is about 15 years old. A stereo-typically 'accepted' age to be contemplating such issues. 

As for Hannah, well, I didn't care much for her either. Her character entertained me more-so than Clay, but i found her quite whiny and pathetic. Not that i didn't like her at all, i did, but parts of her dialogue were pretty teeny. Looking for an (if not ANY) excuse to place a blame on her teeny suicidal attention-seeking obsession with ending her life. She blamed these 'inter-connected events' on the sole reason that she could no longer carry on with life. I appologise if I am sounding insensitive here, but don't most of us just 'get on with it', man-up and deal with the crap that we all inevitably have to go through every day? But to then go and record her obsession and deliver it to those concerned? What was she hoping to do? destroy them? Make them realise they are horrible people and shock them into being better people? Maybe she waned to make them 'top-themselves' too and then they could all have a crazy teen-suicide club that really is after all, inter-connected! I did feel for Hannah and i thought her dialogue was well thought through, planned and very well delivered. Its just most of it didn't entertain me much.

The story was structures almost from a dual-viewpoint , with the exception being that Hannah delivered her piece prior to the actual setting but was delivered in the present. This was a clever way to deliver the story and for the most part, worked. Despite separating Clay and Hannah's narrative by normal and Italic fonts respectively, this wasn't enough to keep me from confusion. Several times i found myself reading Clays 'odd sentences' between Hannah narrative as Hannah narrative.
The inclusion of the Play Pause and Stop symbols in the book version of the text i believe really help in depicting and separating the narrative and in setting the story. It allows the weight of her ultimate decision to be conveyed to the reader even stronger.  I was very disappointed to find (after i had finished it) that these had been omitted from the Kindle format

So my £5.49, i'm sad to say, was not money well-spent. I am glad i have read it. It is an original narrative and i haven't read a book structured like this before. But i'm sure about saying that i wont be adding this to my collection nor going back to it in the future. On the rear of the paperback book i found out that you can actually listen to Hannah's tapes whilst following the book. Again this was omitted in the Kindle version so unfortunately i cannot comment. But just to let yo know that they are there if any of you people decide to read.

I have had several niggles with my kindle that have come back to the surface after reading 13 Reasons Why on it. I am therefore going to have a Kindle Vs Book review ready for you all shortly.

Thursday, 21 November 2013


I was hoping to post this tomorrow but seeing as it's likely I'm not going to be home till Saturday morning it's probably best to post this now. My apologies for how late this will be. Very interesting, much more so on closer inspection. Nothing stands out as a sure fire number one but then I certainly didn't guess that Animals song would hit the top. I did listen to it and dismissed it as quicker than most after 3 listens. A day later I still can't remember how it goes and have no desire to refresh my memory on the matter.

One thing I am going to say is, rather randomly, Black Sabbath should stop making new albums. I've heard most of the songs now and it's just depressing. I really don't want to be too down on these guys, I think it's incredible that they are still performing let along releasing new albums but I have to be honest. This sounds as old as they are. It's very classic rock and sounds like a hidden track from an album in the late 70's. They haven't moved with the times and as such the end product is as stale as Ozzy's speaking voice.

So other than the BAD and BEARABLE, here are some notable mentions for a combination of reasons.

Boyzone - Love Will Save The Day

It would seem that this once madly loved vocal Irish quartet are going down the Take That route of reforming and coming back with a more mature approach to their music but still regaining the charm that kept them posted on teenage bedroom walls for over a decade. Now those walls are looking a little messier due to cigarette stains and mortgaged house baptism of rising damp, so the question is, will their. Well, this isn't Patience but nor is it Headlines (Friendship Never Ends). It's a decent song and Ronan Keating has never sounded better. It's a very Boyzone sounding song however, they've not been as brave as Take That, who's Beautiful World album was about as unexpected and well received  as Metallica's S&M (who'd have thought orchestra and metal would meld so deliciously) so in reality so far they're playing it pretty safe. Overall though I do kind of like it, my only really niggle is how stupid the lalalalalalovvee part sounds, harking back to Puddle of Mudd 'She Beeping Hates Me territory, but without the irony. It's almost like Keating was dared to screw up the chorus on purpose and see if anyone said anything. Guess they didn't.


Dawes - Most People

I find this song peculiar, it's nicely put together but the overall sound is somewhat lacking in creativity, despite a nice little guitar riff trying desperately to break out of the score and some very interesting lyrics about being too blindsided by personal hang ups and personal issues to not see the big picture. In which we are all in the same boat and are rapidly decided how to dally up the life belts. It's the best written song lyrically this week, shame the music doesn't quite do it the justice it deserves, but perhaps it doesn't need it right now.

Elton John - Voyeur

There just aren't enough songs out there about peeping toms. Such a rich, barely touched tapestry of emotion, reluctance and left over bodily fluids to create such stirring compositions. I've read these lyrics back to front and upside down and there cannot be any doubt that this song is, without a trace of irony, about an actual voyeur. In every sense of the only definition of the word
I can't help but like Elton John and this song while certainly not his best, does have it's merits. I just can't get my head around the subject matter. It's like Celine Dione bringing out a song about making obscene phone calls.

JLS - Billion Lights

Maybe I'm behind the times but didn't they announce their separation around 2 years ago? What's the point of even releasing this single? what happens if it does really well? Will they have to hold a press conference and rather sheepishly announce their reunion after never really being apart? Judging by their styling they all live in each others wardrobes anyway. Replace the somewhat feminine sounding vocals and this is pretty much a Girls Aloud song, when Girls Aloud were not horrific. At times it even sounds like 'Something Kind of Oooooh Ooooooh'. So when I listen to this song I imagine it being sung by a group of hot girls in provocative clothing. What doesn't help however is JLS's tendency to wear low cut tops, that gets kind of confusing, especially when they have cleavage.

At least they'll be gone soon, hopefully

Lily Allen - Hard Out Here

It's nice that after bashing Allen last week she can redeem herself almost immediately with her brand new single that is not a cover. But this just re-enforces the very reasons why the Keane cover is a far cry from the quality that Allen can deliver. Here she is in her scathing, self-effacing self. At least in the verses.

Listen up Allen, and listen close: You have a good a voice, you do not need Auto tune. It sounds weird on your already (Deckard is gonna get you... to-night) replicant sounding voice. Don't do it again, you're better than this. So far only Bruno Mars has managed to make autotune sound bearable, and that was just one song, and probably a fluke. 

Matt Fishel - Oh Santa!

Oh bravo. More Christmas humour of the Me First Gimme Gimme variety please. They style reminds of a mix of Me First and The Feeling (when they were good) Whoever this Fishel guy is he's just selling this song so well that I actually believe he could be impregnated by Santa, and would like it. Bravo again good sir.

My pick for 2 BAD this week may surprise some and will most certainly infuriate at least one person
Here they are....

Bastille - Of The Night

Sorry Zuz, I really don't like this. It's just a poorly done mash up of Rhythm is a Dancer and Rhythm of the Night. Both old school favourites and this version just sounds diluted in the vain attempt at trying to sound enigmatic. I just think it sounds crap. Why would such a distinctive band like Bastille waste a one of their single releases with a cover when they write infinitely better music themselves. I'm not even a huge fan of them either. That's how much I don't like this version. This version is just BAD

Gary Barlow - Let Me Go

If I hadn't have heard 'Wake Me Up' by Avicci I think I would like this song more than I do. I quite like Barlow as both a singer and songwriter, the man is definitely talented and as far as I'm aware has never been one to jump on the bandwagon in favour of following his own style. Until now it seems.

I get what he was going for with the country-esque, semi gospel sound but it's ridiculously bad timing and it comes across as someone a bit too inspired by something they recently heard. It's like 'Complicated' by Avril Lavigne and 'El Salvador' by Athlete coming out within 4 months of each other. They are not connected at all but you listen to them both you can't help but feel a lawsuit in the making, even if it was complete coincidence. I feel the same way about this song. Wake Me Up is so much better anyway. Save it for the judge Barlow, I find you guilty of being BAD because I expected much better.

And my 2 BEARABLE of the week are...

Foy Vance - Closed Hand, Full Of Friends

With a piano intro that sounds like it could be an unplugged version of I Got A Feeling by Black Eyed Peas and a moustache borrowed from Bill The Butcher, we have an energetic and powerful song with one hell of a great vocal. This is of an out there comparison but think the music style of Patrick Wolf and the voice of John Foggarty from CCWR. I do hate these abrupt endings though, it really did sound like they were building to another foot stomping chorus and it just stops. I know it had just reached the 4 min mark but still, one more wouldn't have hurt

Luminites - Do Something
Ok, here's where it gets serious. I shouldn't like this, I should despise it with every fibre of my being and then use them weave their own death shroud. But I can't... I like it. Sorry. Consider this my first Guilty Pleasure Bearable.

To add salt to the embarrassing itchy crack rash, they're a another bunch of losers too, this time of the Britain's Got Talent persuasion, but heaven help me and help it really must, but I like this. Any song that's making me bop to the music whilst I'm typing gets my thumbs up, at least when I finish the paragraph, otherwiseitwouldenduplookinglikethis.

This is the kind of pop music that I would secretly admire as a guilty pleasure. In the same vain as some very early Atomic Kitten, when Kerry Katona wasn't fat and skint because she should followed her own advice and gone to Iceland instead of Waitrose. It's just so incredibly upbeat and happy sounding with some truly remarkable back ground vocals (listen out for the guy belting out 'why don't you just do iiiittt!! he's nailing that note beautifully)

I'm going to hide now.

Thanks for reading, feel free to mock,  See you for 50 Shades, apparently they'll be having sex soon but it's all very hush hush

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Meg Rosoff : HOW I LIVE NOW

HOW I LIVE NOW is a novel written by american author Meg Rosoff. It became such a best-seller that this year we had the privilege to see the film adaptation of this book in cinemas.

I have not heard about this book before I knew about the movie. As mentioned in the film review I even didn't know that it was an adaptation of a book. As soon as I found out, that there is a book, I was eager to have it. Ordered and paid for it on Amazon, it got delivered within days of its purchase. But it's been sitting on  my book shelf until Monday this week, when I decided that it's time to see if the book is better than the movie or other way round.

Now the general rule usually applies and the book always wins. But will this be the case of 'How I live now' ? The people who read it before me, loved it. 

"Magical and utterly faultless." Mark Haddon 

"Thoroughly original … a book for all ages.. A daring, wise, and sensitive look at the complexities of being young in a world teetering on chaos. " People

First impressions. Quite a thin book. I was expecting it to be bigger. At least 350 pages. Instead I have only 194 to go through. It will be easy and quick to read. Beautiful cover though. Black with pink and orange flowers and flying white butterflies. No sign of what story this book holds. Actually, if you would judge the book by its cover, you would think that it is another romantic story about young love. 

And  you couldn't be more wrong. Yes, it is a love story. But that's not all this book is about. It's about family and the strong hold between its members. It's about love. It's about war. Yes, you heard me right! It's about war and the things which comes  when the world you knew so well is in chaos. It tells us how people react in the new-found unusual circumstances. We always thought that it could never happen to us and now we are reading a story just about that. How will people react? What will happen to us all? How we will survive? Yes, this book is about the one survival instinct which leads you thought circumstances and saves your life on many occasions. 

Written from the point of fifteen-year-old girl Daisy, who just been ultimately betrayed by her father and shipped off to England to live with her deceased mother's family. Here Daisy finally finds her home and people who she can really open up to. Family who she loves and will do anything for them. Firstly it's all happy fun and games for the members of this unique family with unique skills, but when the war begins and England becomes occupied by terrorists, they have to learn to survive and find their way back to each other. 

This novel is written in a form of Daisy's diary. She talks us through the story and her feelings. Her story-telling is engaging. Witty. Smart. A very relatable. An insight to 15-year-old girl's mind. And this girl has some serious issues. 

Daisy is an anorexic who's eating disorder is kind of a coping mechanism. She hates her father's girlfriend and calls her 'Evil Stepmother'. It doesn't help that her father is a pussy who's wife has him wrapped around her small finger. But Daisy is a fighter and as a punishment she is shipped to England. I love the fact that she is so desperate for any signs of being loved. And when she is given the love she so much craves, she can return in the same way. 

Edmond. Well what can I say about Edmond. He is very different from the guy I got to know it the film. Actually this Edmond is kind of a combo of Isaac and Edmond from the film adaptation of this book. He is very insightful. Very sensitive. But caring and he loves his little family very much. He would do anything for them. 

Now his twin Isaac is somebody I don't know from the film. This Isaac is an introvert who talks to animals. Kind of an 'Animal Whisperer'. Although he doesn't say much (actually the only dialogue in the whole book is near the end), you know that you can rely on him. He has this wisdom of knowing where you are, what is going on and how you feeling. 

But the star of the story for me is 9-year-old Piper. This girl is a some kinda of living version of a fairy. For her age, she is the smartest character I've ever met in the book. She is beautiful, kind, funny, playful and sensitive. And she has this skill to overcome anything which is thrown at her. And by only looking at you when you don't know what you want to say, she gets you. She is a lot less annoying and a lot less chattier than the Piper in the film. 

This story is very unique. I haven't read a book which would touched upon the possibility of war between the governments around the world and terrorists. I found it very real. Although at some places it wasn't pleasant to read, you knew that this is how it would be in reality. This is how people would behave. And it's a pretty scary thought. But I loved how the girls coped with their situation. They fought to stay alive. They went (walked) through all nine rings of hell of Dante's Inferno and survived. And surprisingly didn't lost themselves in the process. It made them stronger.  One quote especially stuck to my mind because it was a very strong message about the war!


"It was a paradise. Dead things everywhere and when the stink hit you it was like nothing you ever smelled before and when you hear people say something smells like death trust them because that's the only way to describe what it smells like, putrid and rotting and so foul your stomach tries to vault out through your throat and if your brain has any sense it wants to jump out of your skull and runaway as fast as possible with or without the rest of you so it doesn't ever have to find out what's making that smell." 


The writing was intense. Funny. Smart. The author used long sentences which was a sign of good writing. This is how a 15-year-old girl would write in her diary

The only problem I have with this story is the relationship between Daisy and Edmond. Ok, don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with falling in love. There is nothing wrong to find your soulmate so young, but… FOR GOD'S SAKE!! Not only is Edmond a year younger and half foot shorter than Daisy (yes, I have certain expectations for the guy I will be dating.. thank god Chris Pine ticks all categories ;-) ), he can read Daisy's mind (?!?! hello??!), but most importantly HE IS HER COUSIN!!!! Seriously, when it became normal again to fall in love with members of your family? Am I being prude or is incest the new thing??

Also, this book is set in fairly normal background. We are stuck in the middle of war, but why the hell this family has these special powers? I think I would more enjoy this book if the special skills would be left out. I do love a good fantasy or sci-fi novel, but I do not think that it was appropriate in this story. 

Now the conclusion. I found this novel very unique. It was very witty, sarcastic and written with a style which is right up my street. But I must say that I have started to enjoy it only 60% in. I found very wrong that it was ok to fall in love with your cousin (why not make Aunt Pegg only a very good friend and then they wouldn't be related and the story would be more believable?). And sometimes I had troubles to concentrate while reading it as I found it a little bit boring. But then it picked up and the author saved the story with it's dark side. 

All in all, and I hate to say this, I prefer the film version of this story. I am sorry Ms Rosoff, but I think that Kevin Macdonald breathed a new life into your story and saved it. 

Trailer of Kevin Macdonald's "HOW I LIVE NOW"

Quotes from the book which I noted in my quotes diary:

“I don't get nearly enough credit in life for the things I manage not to say.”

“I was dying, of course, but then we all are. Every day, in perfect increments, I was dying of loss.
The only help for my condition, then as now, is that I refused to let go of what I loved. I wrote everything down, at first in choppy fragments; a sentence here, a few words there, it was the most I could handle at the time. Later I wrote more, my grief muffled but not eased by the passage of time.When I go back over my writing now I can barely read it. The happiness is the worst. Some days I can't bring myself to remember. But I will not relinquish a single detail of the past. What remains of my life depends on what happened six years ago.
In my brain, in my limbs, in my dreams, it is still happening.”

“The things that break your heart when you think there`s nothing left to break”

“Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just to hold on for dear life and see where they drop you when they stop.”

“If you haven't been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is no time at all.” 

“Every war has turning points and every person too.” 

“If there was ever a more perfect day in the history of time it isn't one I've heard about.”

“The real truth is that the war didn't have much to do with it except that it provided a perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop.”

“Staying alive was what we did to pass the time.” 

Book Review: Book 3 of the divergent trilogy - Allegiant

By Veronica Roth

So here it is! Allegiant is finally published and available for us all to pour over. After our lovely Zuzana placed her Amazon order and the book landed on our door-step, i was itching to get into it. I had been book-less for a few days and my anticipation was peaking!

I was thrown right back into the thick of the action, right from where i was left us teetering on the edge of the cliff at the end of Insurgent. Although the introducing chapter is well set and background is provided, this is only for the benefit for those who have waited for this this final installment. A refresher as such. New-comers, i'm sorry, but there is no 'Que-jumping' opportunities for you here, get to the beginning and read the Divergent trilogy from the start. I promise you won't be disappointed. 

As noted in my previous posts, I loved the style of writing Roth adopted where the first chapter of the book follows directly from the last chapter of the previous. It pulled me right into the book and avoided the dreadfully boring omnibus style catch-up drawl sometimes found at the start of novels. If i wanted to bore myself with catch-up scene setting, id watch the 8-hour long Emmerdale omnibus on a Sunday. 

One aspect which i forgot to mention in my previous posts for Divergent, but more-so Insurgent, was the dialogue between Tris and Tobias. I would often get confused as to who was saying what or who's perspective we were reading from as these changed regularly. I was therefore over-the-moon to see that this had been well and fully addressed in Allegiant. Heading each chapter with the character of focus was a massive improvement in following and understanding the story.  

When the Twilight saga mania was is full-motion, rumors spread of Stephanie Myer writing a book set from Edward Cullen's point of view. The fans went crazy over this and a snippet was leaked on the internet. When my Gran found out, she was hot on the web and had it downloaded in no time. At 68 years of age, i think i have found Robert Paterson's biggest 'mature' fan (she even has Twilight flip-flops and hair-dryer!). The decision then to write from the perspective of both main characters, really made this book what it is! It gave us insight into the minds of Tris and Tobias. As Divergent and Insurgent were mainly orientated around Tris, this was also a brilliant way for us to fully understand Tobias, his insecurities and his way of thinking. It reveals many doubts, shadows and flaws in his projected strength and certainty. Not only does this act to re-enforce the 'broken-ness' aspect withing Allegiant, but really allowed me to bond with Tobias's character and satisfy that "what is he really thinking?" side of my curiosity over their relationship. This style of writing obviously allowed the story to develop the way it did in a clear and concise way. For what a twisting story it came to be!

I have mentioned before my doubts over the character of Evelyn (See Book Review: Insurgent). This, unfortunately became a further issue in this book. For the strong and important woman she was supposed to be, i found her weak and insignificant compared to others. Despite the plot taking a wild turn away from the city, the war (and thus Evelyn) was still the underlying story.
As a result of this, Evelyn's character was a little disappointing. She didn't really do much in this book when so much about her was built up in the previously. To say she waged a war and over-threw the entire political system and the majority of its leaders, she gives up far too easily and for what seems, a pretty insignificant alternative. After you've lived the way she did, brewing in your own hatred and negativity to the world for so long, she gives it all up at the first opportunity of being a mother to her son again. This was a little disappointing, i have to admit. Alternatively, I think it would have been quite interesting to have had Tobias try to persuade her to back-down, her relent and he have to kill her. After all, her hatred lead her to over-throw her entire government, murder hundreds of people and be willing to force a new system on the remaining survivors and forever live in chaos and destruction. 

A character i was surprised not to see more often was Johanna. She was cleverly constructed and written though. She was built up in Insurgent to be a promising and, i thought, dominant character in Allegiant. But this was not the case. Her part in Allegiant was very quiet and under-stated until the end. I was very happy to see her strength, will and fight pay-off for her. She was one of the more inspiring characters

The story developed well, was action-packed and fast-paced. I have to say though, in my review of Insurgent, i said:

"The other idea i had [for the ending] was more of 'A Trueman Show' where they were experiments sectioned in a compound to see how long they would last before they wiped one-another out. Obviously this was not the case."

Well! It turns out i was spot on! I was very impressed with this slant on the story. The reasons behind why they had been sectioned and the state of what humanity had inflicted upon itself. It was an interesting and good theory. The corruptness of it added extra the extra spice to the story and re-enforced the reality of human nature

I was so happy that Veronica didn't fall into the typical cliche trap for the end of the book. The final turn in the events made this book even better for me. I was very happy with it, but i shan't spoil it for those of you yet to read it!
The scene itself  did not evoke the emotion probably intended but this is because this character was not my favorite at any point of this book. The phrase 'pansycake' comes to mind.

Overall, i thought Allegiant was a great read and a good conclusion to the trilogy. It was easy to read and easy to get through quickly. There were many twists and turns and it was quite the action-filled cream cake!

The Divergent trilogy is a credit to teen-fiction and I would recommend it to all those with an interest in sci-fi fantasy fiction. 

Quotes from the book:

'I belong to the people i love, and they belong to me- they, and the love and loyalty i give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.'

'There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or someone else. 
Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever know nor everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater. 
But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of everyday, the slow walk towards a better life.'

'My memories, some of the most powerful memories i have, have dulled with time, as memories do. Sometimes i actually enjoy going over them in my mind, though not often.'

'Yeah, sometimes life really sucks... But you know what I'm holding on for? The moments that don't suck... The trick is to notice them when they come around.'

Monday, 18 November 2013


Bonjour my lovelies!!

How was your weekend? I hope you all got to relax and enjoy your time off work with your family and friends. I have been lucky enough to indulge myself in the world of music. Stereophonics showed me why they have the LEGENDS status and Imagine Dragons proved that they are the best band live you have the privilege to see. 

Having said that, unfortunately, the weekend is over. And it is time to go back to work. So to overcome your and my Monday blues (yes, I am not a lover of Monday and especially Monday mornings either) I have decided to share with you some little music gems I found. 

Some are new not only to you, but to me as well. And then we have the old classics which never disappoints. 

So let's go and cure our Monday blues with #MusicMonday post!!!

Will & Jaden Smith feat. DJ Jazzy Jeff : FRESH PRINCE 

This is a guaranteed cure for your Monday Blues. Every single time I see this clip from Graham Norton show, I just cannot stop laughing out loud. It brings back the memories when as a kid I used to watch this show. And of course, Will Smith is the coolest dad on the planet!!! 

(I wanna) Channing all over your Tatum

Hilarious video from Jimmy Kimmel show featuring every girl's dream buy Channing Tatum, Jamie Fox, Olivia Munn, Miley Cyrus and plenty of other Hollywood stars. This was a special video made for the Kimmel's show and as soon as you see, you will be in stitches. 

I want to dedicate this tune to my lovely Claire who loves Channing so much (although currently his #1 spot has been overtaken by Chris Hemsworth) hehe. 

Now let's get to the more serious music business and actually tunes in the recent charts. Some of these songs have become my favourites. 

BASTILLE : Of The Night

I first heard this version of this old time classic when seeing Bastille live couple weeks ago and I have instantly branded as the best version of this dance tune. I think Bastille did an amazing job when re-doing this song. 


Oh have I ever told you that I have a soft spot for old school hip hop? No, well you have just learnt a new info about me. I love SugarHill Gang and GrandMaster Flash, Fugees, Tupac… And thanks to Smokestack I have been reminded how much I actually love this tune.


Well this band was a surprise of the night on Saturday. They have been supporting Imagine Dragons on their "Night Vision" tour and lucky for us, they arrived in Leeds too. All three of us were pleasantly surprise when we were listening to these guys and instantly like them. We will make sure to keep an eye on them in the future. 

So these are my 5 songs for this week's #MusicMonday. I hope your mood has been lighten up and bad thought are gone. My disappeared at Fresh Prince of Bel Air remix :) What songs work for your bad mood?

Have a great lovelies and don't forget to read out blog :)